General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017
There seems to be no end in sight to the crisis in the top echelons of the Electoral Commission (EC).
Various commentators the Daily Graphic spoke to were of the opinion that from all indications the EC’s credibility had been dented and that it required a probe into its affairs to clear the mess and restore its battered and bruised image.
The National Peace Council (NPC), whose Chairman, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, had earlier called for dialogue to resolve the matter, is now calling for a probe into the impasse, while the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has called on the Chairperson of the EC and her two deputies to step aside while investigations continue into the apparent confusion at the commission.
Muddying the waters further is a reaction from one of the deputies, Mrs Georgina Opoku-Amankwah, to an earlier petition filed by the Chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei, to the Council of State.
Reached for her comments on the reaction, Mrs Opoku-Amankwah explained that her reaction that had gone viral on social media had nothing to do with the present impasse at the EC, reports Kwame Asare Boadu.
She said in May this year, Mrs Osei had levelled a plethora of allegations against her which she addressed to the Council of State.
I have responded to those allegations to the Council of State already, but I find it strange that my reaction has been put out there as if I am reacting to what my boss recently put in the public domain,” she told the Daily Graphic yesterday.
In her responses to the Council of State, the Deputy Chairperson (Corporate Services/Finance and Administration) of the EC touched on matters including an alleged bloated GH¢1.7-billion election budget, a GH¢39-million contract and a missing GH¢480,000.
On the election budget, she dismissed the allegation that the budget was bloated and further denied claims by Mrs Osei that she (chairperson) had reduced the budget to GH¢1.2 billion.
“The claim by the chairperson that she reduced the budget to GH¢1.2 billion is an attempt to glorify herself with an undeserved gratification,” she stated in her response to the Council of State.
With regard to the accusation of signing contracts worth over GH¢39 million without the authorisation of the chairperson in 2015, Mrs Opoku-Amankwah said as the Chair of the EC’s Entity Tender Committee (ETC) at the time, she did nothing wrong in signing those contracts.
“The contracts under reference had already been approved by the ETC, of which I was the chair. These contracts had been evaluated, reviewed and approved before the commission gave the Chairperson of the ETC the mandate to sign. The contracts were in respect of procurement of election materials for the district assembly elections. I was, therefore, in an official capacity to sign those contracts and so I did,” she said.
Responding to the allegation that GH¢480,000 went missing from the EC’s Staff Endowment Fund under her watch, she said it was a palpable lie.
According to her, Mrs Osei unilaterally instituted audit investigations into the issue, without the knowledge of her two deputies, based on which the final report was sent to the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
In yet another response to an allegation of insubordination, Mrs Opoku-Amankwah said there was no iota of truth in the claim by her boss.
On the allegation that the Deputy Chair, Operations, approved her leave without recourse to the chairperson, Mrs Opoku-Amankwah described it as “apologetic” because the EC boss was well in the knowledge of it.
She said the claim by the EC boss that she (deputy) approved her own leave without recourse to the chairperson was “not only pathetic but also begs the question”.
Mrs Opoku-Amankwah also denied claims by her boss that she unilaterally promoted regional directors in 2016, contrary to laid down processes, insisting that the chairperson had approved a memo on the promotions.
Ghana Integrity Initiative wants probe
Meanwhile, the GII has entered the fray, calling on the government to act quickly on the allegations that have dogged the EC.
It said the government, through its relevant agencies, should “take swift action to ensure that appropriate and thorough investigations are conducted into these matters”.
A statement signed by the Executive Director of the GII, Mrs Linda Ofori-Kwafo, said the GII “had observed with grave concern the allegations and counter-allegations being made by the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Osei, and her two deputies, Mr Amadu Sulley and Mrs Opoku-Amankwah”.
“The most crucial quality required of the commission in exercising its mandate is a very high level of integrity. It appears the current impasse affects the very core of the non-negotiable quality…,” it said.
The advocacy organisation against corruption said although several issues had come to the fore as a result of the allegations that required investigations, specific investigations had to be carried out into matters bordering on the abuse of office and corruption.
Specifically, the GII wanted the involvement of the two deputies in procurement irregularities in May 2015 involving $22.3 million and $16.6 million for the purchase of BVDs investigated.
Also, it said, allegations of the signing of contracts worth more than GH?40 million without the requisite approval and authorisation, the collection of GH?6 million from political parties for the conduct of party primaries without recourse to the structures of the commission and illegal vote transfers on the voter management system all needed to be investigated.
“The GII calls on the President to update Ghanaians on the status of the petition received from the ‘concerned staff’ of the commission on the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Osei,” the statement said.
It appealed to politicians to desist from the politicisation of the matters and allow due process to be followed in order not to undermine the importance of the EC in the country’s democratic process.
National Peace Council
The NPC has also called for a probe into the allegations at the EC.
Its Chairman, who had earlier called for an internal arbitration process to resolve the dispute, has now made a U-turn, demanding full-scale investigations into the allegations, reports Mary Mensah.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Most Rev. Prof. Asante indicated that initially it was only a petition to President Nana Akufo-Addo by some “aggrieved staff” of the EC based on internal wranglings.
He said as time went on, things assumed a more serious dimension, with accusations and counter-accusations being brought to the fore against the EC Chair and her two deputies, which bordered on criminality.
He said given the new facts that were coming out, dialogue did not apply any longer, as the allegations needed thorough investigations.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante called for an end to the war of words among the key parties within the EC.
“They should think ahead as they trade accusations and counter-accusations, and in an attempt to justify and redeem their own image, they should also think far, as they have said enough and they should allow due process to take place,” he said.
He asserted that if the investigation processes started and those in charge thought that it was important to ask the three persons to step aside in order not to jeopardise the investigations, he would not object to that.